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Time Out New York Project: Issue #799, February 3-9, 2011
Dir. Yann Arthus-Bertrand. 2009. N/R. 95mins. Documentary.
Mother Earth will not be ignored — not if Glenn Close has anything to say about it. The Damages star narrates Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s pro-environment documentary with such cocksure conviction that you cower in your seat, feeling guilty about all the times you skipped recycling the Sunday paper. The visuals are also humbling; the film is composed entirely of impressive aerial footage, which Arthus-Bertrand shot in 54 countries over several years. These crystal-clear images are both awe-inspiring (arctic ice floes; tropical forests) and horrifying (rivers dirtied by pollution; cattle packed tightly into factory-farm pens). But soon enough, the astonishment wears off and monotony sets in — seen one sweeping helicopter shot, you’ve seen ’em all, especially when they’re stretched over an hour and a half.
That doesn’t stop Close from bloviating as if she were Moses bearing the freshly etched commandments: “Faster and faster!” she intones whenever a destructive symbol of industry pops up onscreen, though more laughable is her portentous, oft-repeated call to arms: “It’s too late to be a pessimist!” You’d like to answer back with a dismissive snap and a “Girl, please!” — even as you sympathize with the movie’s overarching sentiments. We certainly need all the ecological jeremiads we can get. But must they be so numbingly pedantic?—Keith Uhlich